NIL Huge Coaching Changes and All-Stars on The Move

A weekly look at high school sports in the state of Alabama for the past week and a look ahead to what is on tap. This is an opinion piece (sort of). My weekly look at the world of high school sports in Alabama starts outside the state. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association announced this week that it would allow high school student athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.

I was wondering when the trend that has changed the face of college sports would reach the high school level. Here we go.

It’s probably no coincidence that the biggest name in high school football these days, quarterback Arch Manning, plays high school football in Louisiana.

However, it should be noted that high school athletic associations in Alaska, California, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, New York and New Jersey already permit student-athletes to benefit from NIL.

Here is hoping Alabama is not next in line.

Alabama law currently does not allow high school athletes to profit and still remain eligible.

That’s a good thing in my mind.

Hall of Fame football coach Steve Mask, now at Pell City, put it this way when I asked him about the trend earlier in the week.

“We already have an amateur rule in place. I would hope we would continue that. With all the other negative things now with kids transferring and everything else, I would hate to see it happen. It’s very bad for high schools. Those kids need to be worried about going to prom and field day at school and those things rather than putting themselves out there to make money.”

Agreed. We continue to rush student-athletes through high school into adulthood. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Shouldn’t we let them enjoy ALL their time in high school if possible?

Still, the Louisiana NIL decision this week makes me wonder what’s coming next and when to our state?

The AHSAA announced the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic would return to Mobile, where it originated, on even years through at least 2026. The game left Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium in 2010 and relocated at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl. Since 2015, the game has alternated between Montgomery and a Mississippi site each year. This year’s game will be held Dec. 10 at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of the University of South Alabama. The North-South All-Star Game will be held at the same stadium on Dec. 16. You can’t find a better location for either. Hancock Whitney is one of the uncrowned jewels of our state.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association announced its Mr. and Miss Basketball for 2022 at the annual banquet in Montgomery last week. Arkansas signee Barry Dunning Jr. of McGill-Toolen was named Mr. Basketball, while Hazel Green’s Samiya Steele was named Miss Basketball. She is headed to Alabama State. It is the first time a player from either school has won the award. Both will be outstanding representatives of our state. It also was nice to be able to come together and host a banquet with nearly 300 people in attendance after the pandemic forced us to cancel the last two.

Coaches on the move

Several big-name high school football coaches will be at new locations in 2022.

— Last week, Orange Beach hired former Prattville, Florence and Central-Phenix City coach Jamey DuBose to follow Chase Smith. DuBose spent the last two seasons at national power Lowndes, Ga., before returning to Alabama coaching. He takes over a relatively new school that will jump two classes from 2A to 4A in the fall. DuBose won a pair of state championships at Prattville and another at Central-Phenix City.

— Speaking of state championships, Patrick Browning led Pike Road to the 5A title a year ago. He won’t be there for a repeat performance. He was hired earlier this week as the new head coach at Greenville High following Josh McLendon.

— Ryan Lolley is leaving Gordo after 20 years on the coaching staff – the last 9 as head coach – to become head coach at Northridge High. He won 99 games as coach of the Green Wave and led the team to a state runner-up finish two years ago.

— Former Etowah head coach Ryan Locke was named head coach at Hale County High on Thursday.

Question for the week: Who made the most impactful coaching hire this offseason? Was it one of the four guys mentioned above? Did it happen at Hoover? Vestavia Hills? Florence? Spanish Fort? Pell City? If you have a take, shoot me an email ([email protected]) with your reasoning and I may use it next week.

A couple of sad stories

— Geraldine student-athlete Harley Lasseter, 14, was killed last weekend in a hit-and-run accident in DeKalb County. The ninth grader was riding his 2003 Honda CH-80 motor scooter on Alabama 75 about 3 miles south of Geraldine when he was struck by an unknown vehicle around 10:20 p.m. Saturday, according to ALEA reports. Geraldine High School principal Jason Mayfield said Lasseter was not far from his home when the hit-and-run happened. Tyler Blaise Wilbanks, 22, of Sylvania, was arrested 5:20 a.m. Wednesday in Pell City and charged with manslaughter and felony leaving the scene of an accident